You’ve ploughed through hundreds of job applications and finally plucked out 5 promising candidates to interview, but before you make that call, should you look them up online?

Research by CareerBuilder revealed that the amount of companies who use social media to research candidates has increased from last year, with 2 in 5 firms now looking up candidates on social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

The increase in surveillance may be down to the huge amount of applications employers receive per job, with an estimated figure of 39 applications for every graduate role available, according to a study by High Fliers Research. Considering the sheer volume of Times New Roman fonts and “confident communicator” descriptions hiring managers wade through each day, it is easy to see why companies have taken to social media to try to understand the human behind the CV.

When searching social media, there are many things you could stumble upon. Here are some of the best and worst things you could find on a candidate’s social media pages.

Interesting hobbies

When asked the usual “what do you do in your spare time?” question, most candidates are so focused on the formal interview process they panic and completely forget their life outside of work. Or often it may seem inappropriate to mention certain hobbies, such as motor bike racing, during the interview process.

Social media is a fantastic place to demonstrate aspects of your personality, without looking like a show off! Job applicants can post pictures of themselves running a marathon, baking delicious cakes or organising an event for friends and family. The great thing with social media is it shows us a snippet of somebody’s personality, there are no restrictions on how creative people can be, on platforms such as Pinterest, and as long as it’s done tastefully, it can create a great second impression for employers.

Inappropriate content 

It’s cringe worthy enough seeing inappropriate photos of your friends splashed across social media, so imagine how unsettling it is to come across your brightest applicant in fancy dress drinking from a barrel.

Unfortunately, some people still haven’t grasped the concept that not everything should be shared on social sites, and many candidates are continuing to post drunken pictures of themselves without changing their privacy settings.

While it may seem a bit pedantic as these are personal accounts, this is still how someone chooses to present themselves to the World Wide Web. Imagine if you were to hire them and clients were exposed to the content you easily found. You need to make sure your prospective employee knows how to represent themselves and your business accordingly.

Technical ability 

Social media isn’t just for the younger generation. For an older person applying for roles, an active presence on social media can really improve their chances of getting the job.

While employers shouldn’t discriminate against age, a lot of companies, especially digital businesses, may worry that an older person wouldn’t be able to keep up with the latest innovations. Seeing an older candidate that utilises social media every day in an encouraging way shows that they are more than comfortable with technology.


Negativity is very dangerous in the workplace; complaining, gossiping and avoiding doing work all stem from having a negative attitude about your job.

Finding copious Facebook status updates about how much a prospective employee despises their boss, or can’t be bothered to do “boring” work is a very bad sign. If they are so disheartened by their previous or current role, how quickly may they become disinterested in their new role? Be careful of candidates who post while in work too, unless it is work-related or about a client, they shouldn’t be posting.

Good communication skills

Looking up a candidate and finding that they can spell, use punctuation and grammar correctly is always a winning sign.

However, it’s an added bonus if you can tell that they communicate effectively with others. Do they respond to discussions in a concise and meaningful way or do they argue for the sake of it? Social media is also a good way of assessing how your candidate might network, as LinkedIn and Twitter have become the quickest and easiest way to build up contacts in your industry simply by following them. Have a look whether the jobseeker has made any contacts with industry professionals, or if they have even followed or looked up yourself, as this shows genuine interest in the industry and the role.

Social media is not something that employers should use to obtain obstructive information or spy on job applicants with, in many cases it can show a well-rounded individual and confirm that an employer has made the right hiring choice. That said, social media is so widely integrated within our society now that candidates must be aware of the implications of what they post, especially if they are searching for a new job.